Radian Convertible Car Seat: Not So Great for Travel

Veda crashed for a 5 hour drive for the holidays in the Diono Radian Convertible Car Seat

I read raving reviews from parents about the Diono Radian Convertible Car Seat.  It’s selling features were that it folds flat and comes with a carrying strap for easy transport.  It can also be used forward- or rear-facing, and because of compactness can fit three in a row in a backseat.  Looking for an alternative to the -almost perfect- Lily Gold Sit’N’Stroll we’ve been using for the past year, I decided to purchase one.

I was a bit hesitant at first, since despite rave reviews by many parents there seemed to also be a whole movement of parents that were up in arms at the Diono company (previously Sunshine Kids) due to a malfunctioning SUPER LATCH mechanism that keeps the seat secured to the car, and a failure on the company’s part to recall the seats or acknowledge the problem.  I even emailed the company to ask what the status was as a consumer interested in purchasing their product.  I never heard back.

I still went ahead and purchased the seat, after reading that models manufactured after February 2011 had corrected the latch problem, seeing no other great travel car seat option.  Although I will admit that the car seat is extremely comfortable (my babe slept for a whole 5 hours in that seat in the car on the way back from visiting family for Thanksgiving), and does seem to be very secure and safe, I would never, ever travel with this car seat on a flight.

Yes, it folds (nearly flat) and it comes with a strap, but this thing is HEAVY at 21- 24 pounds depending on the model.  My husband was frustrated enough to suggest returning it on the first use, commenting that, “This thing is just gimmicky.  Whoever gave it good reviews wasn’t traveling with it.”  It was cumbersome and heavy just carrying it down the stairs to our rental car.  We would never in a million years lug this thing through airports and on planes!  We will be using the seat for home use, but will be sticking with the much more manageable, smaller, and lighter Lily Gold Sit’N’Stroll for international- or domestic- airline travel.

One other significant drawback to this seat is that we were not able to install the seat rear-facing in the middle seat of our average-sized four door sedan, because it didn’t fit.  We had to install it rear-facing in the back right passenger side, which required pushing the front passenger seat so far up, it was unusable for someone to sit in.  Luckily I travel in the back with baby, anyway.  Perhaps the seat would install rear-facing in a bigger gas guzzling SUV or mini-van, but it’s not so practical for a normal sized car.

If you are set on purchasing the Radian Convertible car seat (which I really hope you don’t plan on traveling with), look at purchasing new models under the company name Diono manufactured since March 2011, which include: Radian RXT, Radian R120 Daytona, Radian R1oo.  Older models that may have the SUPER LATCH defect (under the company name Sunshine Kids) that are no longer manufactured (but are still on the market for sale) include: Radian XTSL, Radian 80SL, and Radian 65SL.

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3 thoughts on “Radian Convertible Car Seat: Not So Great for Travel”

  • I realize that this is an old post, but for others who are reading this, the Radian does take up a lot of front-to-back space when installed rear facing; however, Diono has recently created an angle adjuster to put this car seat more upright. The angle adjuster is a foam wedge that is put under the Radian’s base. This causes it to pivot up and makes it more upright. Many parents purchase the Radian because it can be used rear facing for a very long time- many children can ride rear facing up to age 3 to 5 in this seat due to the generous shell height and the high rear facing weight limit.

    The Radian also tends to be a hit or miss on the installation. In some vehicles, the Radian goes in like a breeze, and in others, you need to do gymnastics to get the seat in.

    The Radian does not have a base, which makes it really easy to load children in without bonking their head; however, this makes it harder to install. When installing with the vehicle’s seat belt, the buckle may not rest at the edge of the belt path. The buckle (female end) needs to be completely in the belt path or completely out of the belt path. It is acceptable to twist the buckle up to three full 360 degree twists.

  • We installed the RXT in a Ford Fusion hybrid 4 dr and had to get the angle adjuster also. Sadly, their manual does not state this, so we were pretty frustrated, but we love the car seat.

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